I’ve never been trendy, but unfortunately I’ve picked up on the hot new disease:
gout. It was once thought to be the “rich man’s” disease, kicked off by rich foods and alcohol.
We know now that men, middle-aged and older, overweight and suffering from things such as high blood pressure are particularly prone to having attacks. (And I fit all the profiles.) The body can’t get rid of uric acid in the blood fast enough, leading to a build up of painful crystals developing and depositing themselves in the joints–the big toe is the usual place–but it is also known in knees, hands and shoulders. The crystals cause swelling and inflammation–but mostly cause a blinding pain like you would not believe. A searing, stabbing pain that is continuous . . . and hurts like a motherfucker.
My doctor believes that my blood pressure medicine, which works like a diuretic, taking water out of my system, dehydrates my system and hurts my ability to eliminate uric acid. The pain hits me in my right wrist and is totally incapacitating. Any movement causes pain. I cannot use my right hand at all. Oh, and did I mention that it hurts like a motherfucker?
There are medicines that try to eliminate the build-up of uric acids and their are medicines that supposedly deal with flare ups. I’ve had two episodes in the past month, including this week. The meds aren’t working and the doctor is trying–but I’m still worried anytime I feel any kind of flinge in my hand. I do have mild arthritis, so the pains are sometimes not a sign of impending gout–but I can’t really tell the difference.
In the meantime, i’ve eliminated red meat, caffeine and full-fat dairy from my diet (beer too!) and am drinking enough water to float a battleship. I’ve been notoriously cavalier about my health for my entire life, but this gout thing may be the incentive I finally need to get healthy.
Why? Did I mention that gout hurts like a motherfucker?